Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vegetarianism in the United Kingdom

A few weeks ago I was given a British cookbook from the mid-1960's which contained several pages of intelligent and inspiring vegetarian recipes. I shook my head in wonderment, not only because the Brits were already printing non-meat recipes so long ago but also because the cookbook in question was sponsored by the U.K. Dairy Council. That a government entity was revolutionary enough - over 40 years ago - to cater to a minor segment of society is impressive, and that forward thinking nature continues to this day with the government-sanctioned packaging/labeling of foodstuffs. It makes finding vegetarian (as well as other restricted-diet food) items a cinch. Not having to stand around in the supermarket reading ingredient labels is a real plus in my book.

I took my camera to the local ASDA grocery and shot photos of the various ways that vegetarian packaging is shown in England. Here's a sampling:

On packages of nuts and trail mix

On a selection of Indian snacks, made fresh daily in the grocery deli

On a deli-made pizza

This is the list of ingredients available for the made-to-order deli pizzas. The green "V" makes the vegetarian-friendly toppings stand out.

On pots of yogurt: on the left is Fage Total Yogurt, on the right Dannon Activa

Old El Paso refried beans

Pork rib flavored potato chips

Pringles - underneath the depiction of the chips, it says "suitable for vegetarians"

Mince pies display the vegetarian symbol

Even the frozen aisles are helpful!


ASDA is a very large grocery store chain owned by Wal-Mart. It is hellish to try to navigate because (and this is a gross understatement) it is so popular that it nearly always seems to be filled to capacity with shoppers, so anything that gets me out of there quicker is a bonus. Not having to stand in the aisle reading the ingredient lists on packages is a godsend.

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